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Articles Home » 2012 Articles » Van Halen - 2012 A Different Kind Of Truth
Van Halen - 2012 A Different Kind Of Truth

ARTIST: Van Halen
ALBUM: A Different Kind Of Truth
LABEL: Interscope
SERIAL: 2793527-2
YEAR: 2012


LINEUP: David Lee Roth - vocals * Edward Van Halen - guitars * Wolfgang Van Halen - bass * Alex Van Halen - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Tattoo * 02 She's The Woman * 03 You And Your Blues * 04 China Town * 05 Blood And Fire * 06 Bullethead * 07 As Is * 08 Honeybabysweetiedoll * 09 The Trouble With Never * 10 Outta Space * 11 Stay Frosty * 12 Big River * 13 Beats Workin'



Despite their mammoth success with Sammy Hagar, Van Halen never quite gelled properly with the 'Red Rocker' at the helm and it goes without saying the Gary Cherone experiment was a horrendous flop. The true essence of Van Halen has always been David Lee Roth, with or without him, which makes his first studio album in some 28 years with the band a revelation of sorts. The promise was always there - as evidenced by Roth's two tracks with the band on 1996's 'Greatest Hits' affair, 'Me Wise Magic' and 'Can't Get This Stuff No More', both excellent songs. But it's taken 16 more years to get to this point, with lineup shuffles, personal woes for all concerned and a slew of bitter feuds along the way. The proof that Van Halen is still a viable concern however is here for all to listen to. Even without Michael Anthony this is the bands best album since '1984' and definitely their heaviest statement since that glorious era. The fact many of the tracks have existed since the 70's and 80's is a non-factor; they were good then and they're even better now.

The Songs
Lead single 'Tattoo' came in for some bashing upon release and I'm not too sure why. It's melodically aware and reminiscent of just about every VH era imaginable. The keyboards are in full effect, which overall is a rarity through the whole album. Like the majority of the material 'She's The Woman' dates back to the 70's, but some 36 years later it's still as effective, perfect North American hard rock. At less than three minutes it's what you want to hear, heavy and direct, with a great chorus. 'You and Your Blues' opens with a guitar tone that recalls the Hagar era, but as this as close as the album gets to remotely modern melody wise. It's passable, building into a heavy climax, with Roth in fine voice especially. It's no match for the speed-metal driven 'Chinatown', which believe it or not is one of the heaviest tracks I've ever heard the band conjure up. This is knock-out stuff, Alex Van Halen putting in a fierce performance, along with Eddie whose riffs and solo are admittedly awe-inspiring. Try getting it out of your head too.. not easy! Turning back the clock to 1982 is 'Blood And Fire', a close relation to 'Secrets' and 'Little Guitars'. The band has always excelled at this type of melodic, mid-paced rock track and nothing's changed ostensibly. A superb atmospheric workout by the band. Another old chestnut dusted off is 'Bullethead', full-scale heavy metal with more aggression than the band has mustered in eons.

The momentum is maintained with 'As Is', starting off in lumbering style, before quickly speeding up into another frantic rocker, a close relation to 'Hot For Teacher'. It's a wall of noise, with Eddie playing with all the vitality that he did back in 1978. Roth throws in some spoken word shenanigans giving it that classic VH feel. 'Honeybabysweetiedoll' opens as if it's 'Loss of Control' all over again, not as fast, but just as heavy, with some unorthodox riffs from Eddie. The song picks up pace during the guitar solo, evoking 'House Of Pain'. This is pure magic, there's no other way to put it. There's a funk element to 'The Trouble With Never', a commercial rocker with a pretty radio friendly chorus. It has a touch of the Hagar era in the guitar sound, with Roth's spoken word sections recalling those 1996 tracks. Elsewhere the intro to 'Outta Space' simply shreds, it doesn't get much heavier it has to be said. This is prime headbanging material, winding the clock back to 1979 with even more wallop. Sound hard to believe? It's true, as hard to fathom as it is. 'Stay Frosty' is a successor to 'Ice Cream Man' and even 'Take Your Whisky Home', opening with some blues riffs before exploding into a standard VH boogie excursion. It's predictable, but still fun simply because it's been so long since the band sounded this inspired. The huge opening riff to 'Big River' obviously owes a debt to 'Runnin' With The Devil', but the inescapable chorus might be the most catchy on offer here. Big and booming, it's another classy display of hard rock might from a band written off by many. The penchant for huge choruses appears once more on 'Beat's Workin', which would indicate the last 30 years never happened. True the track is another reworked from the 1976 period, but it's almost impossible to tell. There's a hint of 'Eruption' in the opening bars, which is a welcome retrospective touch.

In Summary
One of the biggest issues I have with many albums in this day and age is the lack of replay value. It seems for me that an album might be listened to once or twice and then forgotten about. This is the exact opposite of 'A Different Kind Of Truth'. Every track has left me coming back for more, something virtually unheard of these days. It's a tribute to how strong this recording is, the band firing on every cylinder musically. It's also refreshing to once again hear a VH album without the word 'love' in a title. That's the complexity Roth has always bought to the band, the quirky lyrics mixed with his distinctive delivery. This factor results in the best display from Eddie in many a moon; his licks here are among the best he's recorded. The addition of Wolfgang Van Halen is far from a detriment also, blending seamlessly with his uncle. These guys are still playing as if they are up and coming 23 year olds with something to prove. But that's exactly what they've done; prove they are still one of the greatest rock bands walking the earth. Somehow I think at the end of 2012 this will be well up there as one of the year's best. This makes rock sound essential again.

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#1 | gdazegod on February 08 2012 03:29:31
YouTube Video:
#2 | roadrunner158 on February 08 2012 09:48:09
Even though I'm a fan of the "Van Hagar" era, I must admit that this CD is absolutely stunning. I'm still missing a huge chorus on a couple of songs, but that's never been what Van Halen with DLR is about. It's all about the groove, the attitude and those great solos by EVH. On a side note, "Tattoo" is by far the worst track on this CD. 9/10
#3 | gdazegod on February 08 2012 10:16:25
Yeah, interesting choice of 'Tattoo' as a lead-off track. What's up with that?
#4 | RobLynott on February 12 2012 09:58:27
Spot on review Thumbs Up

And to choose the worst song as lead off single is really hilarious!

ADKOT is a gazillion times better than that VHIII rubbish. I give it a 9/10.
#5 | sabace on February 14 2012 12:26:36
love it!, love it! . this sounds like a hybrid of van halen 11 and women and children first . the production is excellent! an honourable mention for the lyrics (roth I suppose ) they are funny and insightful . If you don't like this, you don't like R and R and you certainly don't like classic halen .
#6 | fenton on February 16 2012 03:01:12
This album's so damn good I have trouble believing it even exists. It's like getting a call from your dead father saying he's been living it up down Mexico way this whole time. Then waking up to find out Roth never rejoined Van Halen and your dad's as dead as a doornail.
#7 | reyno-roxx on February 16 2012 09:56:53
Good review. 'Tattoo' is a poor choice for single and opening track. As much as the Hagar years brought about some pretty good music, particularly 'OU812', you can't beat Van Halen with DLR. The two are made for each other.
#8 | gdazegod on February 16 2012 20:37:29
Fenton, I saw somewhere it's gone to #4 on the Australian Charts. Now that's something.. Won't be long before it gets to #1 on the US Billboard Charts. These young-pup modern rock bands must be c***ping their pants to see a 'dinosaur' band take their mantle. Haha!
#9 | swazi on May 21 2012 13:36:32
I am not that much of a VH fan and this CD it not going change my opinion, I am afraid. The best VH releases were with Hagar, imo, and so I actually prefer the new Chickenfoot discs.
#10 | jeffrey343 on August 22 2012 03:54:35
I got this the day it came out, but it's taken me a while to put my comments out here. It's definitely a good VH album to me - I have no complaints about the songs on here. I even really like 'Tattoo' - it may be my favorite song on here. And that tells me this - I'm just not a huge VH fan. Their debut album is epic, and I played that to death in high school, but all the other DLR-era stuff aside from the big hits from 1984 was very hit-or-miss to me. I consider the Hagar era to be a different band that just happened to have the same name, and like swazi, I probably prefer it to the earlier material. I'd put it like this - if I were to rank all their songs from the debut through F.U.C.K., the list would be a bit top-heavy with the best of the Roth era, then heavier on the Hagar stuff, then kinda bottom-heavy with the Roth tunes.

Having said all that, I do like this album, and I'm glad they put one out that has been well-received by most people. It is BY FAR the best album since F.U.C.K. (and probably better than that - time will tell for me, I guess...), and I prefer it to most of the earlier Roth albums.
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